Is there a recipe for sustainability? A bunch of ingredients that, when thrown into a pot, cooked and placed on a plate, will right all that is wrong with the world? I wouldn’t prepare anything but that every day, just to give everyone a taste of it; but it would only be really, truly good if everyone had something on their plate. Something nutritious, locally produced, pollutant-free and fair. A goal that is, unfortunately, still far away – yet every little thing we do can help to reach it. This is exactly what the campaign from SDGF wants to draw attention to, calling for a global challenge: #Recipe4Change, a competition for sustainable cooking.
How our Recipe4Change happened…
Jo and I could not help but be creative and show what “sustainable cooking” means to us – it’s so much more than just consuming cabbage in winter and tomatoes in summer. For us it’s about integration, improvisation, balance, health, fairness and, last but not least, taste!
That is why we want to introduce you to a recipe that offers lasting enjoyment on the plate, and to share some tips to help you recreate it at home.
We are all aware that our diet affects our health and our bodies -and most of the time, we can feel it too. After all, “you are what you eat” appeals to our body consciousness; but what about the health of the environment, the impact that we do not immediately see? What we eat, how we harvest ingredients and cook them also leaves traces. We are talking about the producers, the transportation routes, the packaging, the energy, the water and the forest.
Who tells us: “The world is what you eat.”?
“Food should not be a threat to sustainability, but a source of sustainable development.” say the Roca brothers, who have made this ideal the goal of their mission as UNDP goodwill Ambassadors. Part of their campaign is the monthly competition, which entered its third round this January.
Challenge 1. Avoid processed foods
Jo and I first met at ImpactHub Vienna and discovered our similar passions quickly. Local ingredients are just as important to us as a balanced diet and gentle preparation. We also try to produce little waste and instead garner as much as possible ourselves. The secret for us lies in reducing everything to the essentials – the real passion in the discovery of other cultures.
To use unprocessed ingredients as much as possible is an obvious go-to for both of us, but a rarity nowadays. Look in your local supermarket, you’ll soon discover that fresh food might make up only around 20% of the available produce, if anything at all. Even vegans often fall into the trap of believing that by buying soy sausages they are doing better than they would by purchasing a piece of meat. This is true in terms of animal suffering; but not when taking the cultivation of soy, the rainforest, packaging and transportation into account. When looking at those other aspects, there is not much sustainability left. In addition, processed foods almost always have lesser nutritional values than fresh ingredients. But there are exceptions, which our recipe proves.
The idea for the recipe came from Jo, who let herself be inspired by her Korean roots. Adapted to Austrian norms, the recipe looks a tad different. The traditional rice rolls are usually wrapped with nori seaweed leaves, but finely chopped seasonal vegetables are the better choice in this country.
The tofu comes from small Viennese producers, handmade and unwrapped instead of packaged. The salad is chosen depending on the season. The cucumbers provide the perfect taste of summer. Only the peppers and the few drops of soy sauce still require further thought.
Though this recipe will blow your guests out of the water at the next dinner party, we think the real ingredients for sustainable food are interest, curiosity and openness of people at the table, those who produce the food and the stories behind all of them. We also want to bring awareness to alternatives, options and experiments.
As we have already mentioned, tofu does not necessarily have to come from a box- and seaweed doesn’t have to be seaweed. Search for sustainable alternatives that are fun – be curious and trust yourself.
PS: I have provided vegan alternatives where needed. Do not be frightened by the many ingredients. Nimble hands can conjure up the work in just one hour.
Our #Recipe4Change – Korean Rice Rolls, Reinvented.
2 cups short grain white rice
125g firm tofu
1 egg (egg replacer mixed with chia seeds)
1Tbsp sesame oil
2Tbsp vinegar (apple or rice vinegar)
1Tbsp black sesame
HEALTHY CHILLI SAUCE
1/2 cup baked almonds
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (nutritional yeast)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chili oil
Garlic (amount depends on preference)
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp peper powder
1 tsp paprika powder
1 red paprika
1 bowl of any seasonal salad
Red paprika, cubed
White radish, cubed
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp pumpkin oil
+ Thinly slice the carrot and cucumber, season with pinch of salt and soak up any excess moisture with some kitchen towel.
+ Bathe the tofu in boiling water for 3-5mins, season with a bit of salt and sesame oil, this will also reduce any unpleasant aroma. Allow the tofu to dry, and then cut it into small sticks.
+ Whisk the egg and make an egg pancake in a non-stick frying pan, before the egg is fully cooked add a stick of tofu and wrap the egg around it.
+ Boil the rice, and add sesame oil, black sesame, vinegar and water into the cooked rice. Mix and allow to cool.
+ When everything is prepared for the rice roll, just roll it! Place a handful of the sliced carrot or cucumber, spread a layer of rice, and place prepared tofu stick and roll.
+ Place the roll in the fridge to set while you prepare the sauce.
+ Grill the whole paprika until the surface is blackened.
+ Remove the burned part and cut it in big cubes.
+ Add all the ingredients for the sauce to the mixer and blend until smooth.
+ Cut the cooled roll into bitesize pieces. (Tip! It’s easier if you use a wet knife blade)
+ Set the sauce on the bottom of the plate and place the rolls.
+ Add prepared salad on the side.
+ Prepare the garnish, and add the salad dressing (soy sauce + pumpkin oil).
- Avoid processed ingredients as much as possible: try to use fresh, seasonal ingredients as the basis of your meals and to make use of processed food only in small amounts.
- Bring color and variety to your plate: Color brings not only happiness, but also healthiness. Basically, the more colorful your food, the more nutritional values it has in most cases. PS. only when talking about a natural color ;)
- Check the ingredients: When buying processed foods, the easiest trick is to see if you understand each term on the list. If so, opt for those products with little additional additives and durability substances.
- Reduce the amount of salt and sodium: You would not believe all the things salt is in. Salt is fundamentally important for us, but the amounts which are found in processed foods exceed our daily needs by far! Instead, cook more by yourself and try to spice up the meal with spices and rich-flavored vegetables.
- Boil, grill and steam: These preparation methods will not only save you a lot of fat, but also get more nutrients and taste. They also consume less energy than frying.
“Sustainable” cooking cannot only be entertaining as hell and taste incredible, but also brings people and the stories of the day together. Jo and I have learned an incredible amount about each other during cooking and photographing, and we have also learned to share another common trait – smiling in and out of the kitchen!
The original articla was published on stellamina.com in German. Translation: Alexandra Mitu. Editing: Timony Souler
About Amina Stella Stainer
I have two strong passions in my life: sustainability and creativity. Combining the two of them I aim to tell stories and ideas that matter.
My blog stellamina.com is a platform for people, stories and mindsets. It is a
place where I question daily life, search for answers and give answers.
Trough my work as content creator and social media manager I aim to make your story heard! No matter what people tell you …
>>Words and ideas can change the world.<<